Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality and childhood disability in the United States as well as in North Carolina, and the etiology of most birth defects remains unclear. Population-based birth defects surveillance programs serve an important role by monitoring and analyzing data on the prevalence of birth defects. Our proposed project, “Advancing Population-Based Surveillance of Birth Defects in North Carolina” will address critical surveillance and service needs by strengthening infrastructure and developing new capacities to enhance preparedness and work toward the prevention of birth defects and improved outcomes.
The purpose of this project is four-fold: 1) to improve efficiency and readiness to exchange data with electronic health records; 2) establish data quality measures for monitoring and improvement of program data quality; 3) use surveillance data to assess health outcomes among infants with birth defects; and 4) improve identification and referral to services of infants with birth defects. This project will be carried out by the Division of Public Health, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The Division has a well-established active birth defects surveillance system, with the capabilities in place to be successful in this cooperative agreement.
We anticipate our project to achieve the following overarching goals and outcomes:
1) Strengthened surveillance of birth defects, leading to better readiness to respond to emerging health threats.
2) Improved quality of birth defects surveillance data, leading to increased ability to support the primary and secondary prevention of birth defects.
3) Increased contribution of state data in scientific understanding of birth defects epidemiology, leading to increased knowledge about the prevention of birth defects and improved health outcomes of affected populations.